AGA Releases New Responsible Gaming Code

The American Gaming Association released a new code of conduct for casinos to promote responsible gaming, as part of the 20th Responsible Gaming Education Week. The AGA held press conferences near Atlantic City (participants at left) and in Las Vegas to announce the new code.

Effort focuses on best practices

Officials of the American Gaming Association gathered at Stockton University outside of Atlantic City last week to announce a new responsible gaming code of conduct, to help casinos spot and prevent problem gambling. The announcement was part of the organization’s 20th Responsible Gaming Education Week.

The AGA’s code of conduct for responsible gaming has been republished in each of the past several years to mark the education week. It is designed to help raise awareness within the industry of problem gambling and help casinos shape responsible gaming efforts.

“This is a voluntary measure that we (in) the industry put together that really dictates how we work with our customers to protect them,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “We have an obligation to protect them, make sure that they know the odds, make sure they know where to get help, give them the tools they need to protect themselves, and, in those instances where appropriate, to stay out of the casino environment.”

The event was moderated by David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. “Our goal today is simple: to educate the public, policymakers and media on all the responsible gaming programs that the industry is dedicated to year-round, both here in New Jersey and in all other U.S. jurisdictions,” said Rebuck.

“We want to move away from just doing what we’ve done in the past or just doing small incremental improvements,” Freeman said of the newly revised code of conduct. “We need to move rapidly toward a deeper understanding of how we can make a more meaningful impact in fostering responsible gaming… This is a shift from the longstanding approach that focused exclusively on the prevention of problem gambling. The industry today is better positioned to go beyond an exclusive focus on prevention and promote responsible gaming practices.”

On a practical basis, Rebuck said, that means more training. “The industry will have the responsibility for training all of its employees to identify behavioral traits, and quite honestly, when you’re in a casino or at a racetrack, over time you begin to identify individuals you suspect may be having problems.”

Freeman said the new code is more deliberate and specific than past efforts. “For any regulated industry you can sit back and wait for regulators to tighten the screws or you can take the lead on your own, and that’s what the gaming industry has done here,” he said.

Russell Sanna, executive director of the National Center for Responsible Gaming, further explained the need for best practices to address responsible gaming. “What we really need to recognize in the context of responsible gaming is that responsible gaming practices and techniques are really for everyone in the industry,” he said, according to CDC Gaming reports. “As we take on new forms of gaming, we need to further that research to understand where there are risks and where there are not risks.”

Rebuck hosted an hour-long roundtable discussion as part of the event, which included Freeman, Sanna, Dean Hestermann, corporate director for issue management at Caesars Entertainment; and Patrick Harris of MGM Resorts International.

The organization hosted a similar roundtable discussion on responsible gaming Thursday in the Casino Lab at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. That panel included Elizabeth Cronan, senior director of gaming policy, AGA; Congresswoman Dina Titus, Nevada’s 1st District; Alan Feldman, executive vice president of MGM Resorts International; Tim Richards, senior vice president of payment innovation, Everi Holdings; Dan Shapiro, vice president of strategy and business development, William Hill; Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani; Nevada Gaming Control Board member Terry Johnson; and Bo Bernhard, executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.

“The AGA is proud to be the leading voice behind the gaming industry’s continued commitment to responsible gaming,” said Freeman. “AGA members have made responsible gaming a year-round commitment, and will continue to train their employees in the most effective practices to ensure all our customers enjoy the casino gaming industry responsibly.”